BASICS OF HEART-
This information will help you understand the heart in the easiest way possible
  • Heart is an important organ which lies on the left side of chest
  • You can imagine it to be a house with 4 room with door in-between them

The heart can be divided into

  • Left side( which caries clean blood with lots of oxygen to rest of body as they need them)
  • Right side( carries bad blood with lots of carbon dioxide into lungs to exchange for oxygen)

 

 

The heart is divided into four main sections called chambers

  • Right atrium (Collects blood returning from the body’s veins)
  • Right ventricle (Pumps blood to the lungs)
  • Left atrium (Collects blood returning from the lungs)
  • Left ventricle (The main pumping chamber of the body)

The left and right work without any mixing of blood. The unidirectional flow of blood is supported by the valve opening in one direction.

 

There are also four valves controlling how the blood flows through the heart and around the body
Congenital heart disease can occur if any of these chambers or valves don’t develop properly.

Defects in heart are because of following

  • Structure defects
  • The electric connection

 

Why it happens
  • Chromosomal ( Genes) which are transmitted from parents to the child.( Hence family history of heart defects is enquired)
  • Infections during pregnancy( TORCH infections- it has to be checked during pregnancy )
  • Conditions in mother during pregnancy – Diabetes, connective tissue disorders
  • Drugs, alcohol and certain medications during pregnancy

 

How to diagnose
  • Ultrasound at 18-20 weeks( anomaly scan)
  • After birth- examination by a doctor ( listens with a stethoscope for sounds, blood pressure, ECG reading for electric activity, ECHO scan for structural defects.
  • ECG and ECHO are requested if any signs on clinical examination

 

What do doctors hear in stethoscope
  • Rate of heart, abnormal rhythm
  • Abnormal sounds due to narrowing of outlets

 

Prevention
  • Antenatal visits to hospital( regular ultrasound and blood test before pregnancy)
  • New-born check- after birth in first 24 hours ( check blood pressure, pulsation of arteries, colour, oxygen levels)
  • Talk to your doctor if you taking any medications during pregnancy

 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
 NEWBORN BABIES
  • Feeling tired of exertion( in babies, feeding, crying are exertion)
  • Inconsistent sucking(feeding), breathless
  • Blue colouration specifically tongue and inside the mouth
  • Irritability
  • Decreased urine, so water accumulates in body (oedema)
  • Generally, the symptoms might become worse from day 2 onwards after being well

 

 ELDERLY children
  • Fast heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Blue discolouration of the skin (cyanosis)
  • Chest pain, breathless
  • Failure to gain weight or excess weight gain

 

TREATMENT

Depends on cause
  • If it’s structural then it generally is repaired(like in the house, if a wall is damaged, it will be repaired
  • If the electric connections are damaged, it’s difficult to operate. so a pacemaker may be placed depending on the cause
  • If the tubes are narrow, then they will be dilated by putting a wire through a vein/ artery away from heart
  • When the heart stops working or works insufficiently then the blood flow stops(or reduced). Then there are symptoms of heart failure (blood pools in liver, lungs, legs)
  • Regular visits to a heart specialist for examination helps to access the severity. they may ask for investigations

 

CAN  A CHILD PERFORM NORMAL ROUTINE FUNCTIONS?
 
Most children can live a normal life with some exertion. Based on the severity of the defect, it will be decided by the heart specialist.
Regular follow up with specialist is advised
 
DANGER SIGNS
Some of the many presentations are as below-
  • Breathless
  • Decreased urine
  • Chest pain – worsening on exertion
  • Increasing weight
  • Sweating

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